A possible sale of Eatonville’s electrical utility has been headed off by the Town Council.
Mayor Ray Harper said the town administration wanted to hire a consultant to study the possibility of selling the power distribution system to a private provider as a way to eliminate the expense of operating it. The town is struggling with an overall budget deficit.
In September, the administration formally requested the council to hire EES Consulting, a Kirkland-based firm, to appraise the value of the utility. EES would have been paid a fee of $15,000 or less and issued a report to the town within 30 days.
The council tabled the proposal, effectively suspending any discussion of it.
The town has approximately 1,100 electricity customers.
The inquiry into a possible sale is the second attempt this year by the administration to partially mend some of Eatonville’s budget trouble through the power utility. The council rejected a proposal to add a utility tax of up to 6 percent on electricity, natural gas and telephone service. Revenue from the tax would have been directed to the fire and police departments, which are struggling along with other town services for funding in the face of budget shortfalls.
That plan was replaced by a council-approved levy that’s on the ballot for next month’s general election. Voters are being asked to approve a property tax of $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation that would raise $160,000 a year for the town. Harper wanted the levy to specifically be earmarked for public safety, but the council directed it to support general government services.